The UAE University and the Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi Organize an International Symposium on “Reading in the Contemporary Novel in the Arabian Peninsula”

The UAE University and the Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi Organize an International Symposium on “Reading in the Contemporary Novel in the Arabian Peninsula”

The Arab Gulf novel in its artistic manifestations and its view from the perspective of others, at the local and international levels

Al Ain, 29 March 2023: The UAE University, in cooperation with the Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi, and the French Research Centre of the Arabian Peninsula (CEFREPA), organized an international symposium on “Reading in the Contemporary Novel in the Arabian Peninsula”,  with the participation of a number of guests from inside and outside the country, in addition to faculty members and students from the two universities.

The international symposium intends to discuss the Arab Gulf novel in terms of its artistic and objective manifestations, the contexts of its production, and others’ perspectives of it at the local and international levels. It also attempts to explore the Arab Gulf novel in a new manner and with diverging interpretations. Therefore, it included a number of key figures in creating, interpreting, and critiquing Arab Gulf novels, including, Dr. Ibrahim Al-Saafin, Dr. Mogeb Aladwani, the novelist Dr. Talib Al-Rifai, Dr. Rehab Al-Kilani, Dr. Jacqueline Jundo, and a number of other speakers.

Dr. Saif Al Mahrouqi, Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Arabic Language and Literature, explained that this symposium sought to answer many questions that the specialized and non-specialized readers might have on some relevant postulates. Although it is difficult to provide definitive answers in the field of literary studies, the attempt to offer interpretations forms a part of knowledge. This is usually what such seminars seek to achieve and reach.

The first session of the symposium was held at the UAEU, under the title of “Fiction Writing Techniques in the Arab Gulf Countries, and Revealing the Significant Stylistic Footprint in its Narrative,” moderated by Jamal Maqableh, Professor at UAEU. The participants of the session included, Dr. Ibrahim Al-Saafin from Jordan, Dr. Mogeb Aladwani, from King Saud University, and the Kuwaiti writer and novelist Taleb Al-Refai. Both Dr. Al-Saafin and Dr. Aladwani presented their vision as critics and academics about the novelist’s creative techniques to express his/her own style, and how it changes through time and place, while the novelist Taleb Al-Rifai shared his own vision as a creator.

The second session, held at the UAE University, entitled, “The Novel in a Foreign Language: Prospects for Reception and Creativity”, was attended by Dr. Jacqueline Jundo, from the University of Toulouse in France, and Dr. Rehab Al-Kilani, from Zayed University in the UAE. The session was moderated by Dr. Hany Rashwan from the UAE University. Dr. Jundo has dealt with a number of Arab Gulf novels written in English, while Dr. Rehab Al-Kilani has investigated why some Arab Gulf novelists write in another language, and what drives them to express their issues and opinions in a language other than their own.

During the third session, held at the Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi, entitled, “The Novel and Belonging: History, Place and Identity”, with the participation of Dr. Elisabeth Vauthier , from the University of Lyon in France, Dr. Martina Censi, from the University of Bergamo in Italy, and Dr. Shahd Al Shammari, from the Gulf University for Science and Technology in Kuwait, the speakers addressed the problem of identity and belonging in the Arab Gulf novel, and its implications on the narrative style. The papers presented in the session included different models of the creativity of the Arab Gulf novel.

The fourth session of the international symposium was held at the Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi, entitled, “The Contemporary Novel from the Sociological Perspective of Literature (The Novelist and Society: Mutual Views),” moderated by Dr. Karine Germoni, from the Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi. The participants in this session included Dr. Wael Al Rabadi from Al al-Bayt University in Jordan, Dr. Isabelle Bernard, from the University of Jordan, Dr. Zainab Ben Lagha, from the University of Paris in France, and Dr. Emanuela Buscemi, from the University of Monterrey in Mexico. They reviewed the eternal mutual relationship between the writer and the society in which one lives and reflects on, and the inevitable relationships of influence and vulnerability.

The international symposium was concluded, at the Sorbonne University on Friday morning, March 17, 2023, with literary readings by the participating novelists, Taleb Al Rifai, Rehab Al Kilani, and Shahd Al Shammari. It was followed by the audience’s interventions and enriching discussions about the presented extracts of the literary texts and the creative testimonies.

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